From Disgrace to Community Hero? Are we witnessing the formerly disgraced politician positioning himself as a Chinese community hero? To top it all, Chua has even implied that some UMNO leaders are still trapped in mindsets of the past.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin raised the spectre of the racial riots in a veiled warning to Chua not to stir racial unrest. Instead of retreating however, Chua stood his ground. Chua, a medical doctor, served as a state assemblyman in Penggaram, Johor since In , he became member of parliament for Labis, also in Johor, and was appointed to the Malaysian cabinet as health minister.
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In January , Chua resigned from all his political and public offices as a result of a sex scandal. In the second half of , he won the Batu Pahat division chairmanship and then the deputy president post in MCA -- only to find himself expelled from the party the following year when his opponents once again used the sex scandal issue against him.
But internal conflict within the MCA escalated, allowing Chua to be re-instated in the party and to contest fresh party elections in March Chua ran for the presidency against incumbent president Ong Tee Keat and emerged the victor to become the new president of MCA. Though he triumphed, Chua inherited an MCA marred by factionalism and internal rifts, and that has lost substantial popular support among the Chinese community.
In a Merdeka Centre survey carried out in Malaysia between 27 June and 25 July , it was found that only nine per cent of the respondents regarded Chua as a capable leader. The survey also found that the common Chinese voters still have reservations towards Chua due to the sex scandal. Less than 30 percent felt that MCA represented the interests of the Chinese community.
Taken at face value, these findings illustrate the fact that the perception of MCA as a party subservient to UMNO and unable to protect the interests of the Chinese community within the ruling coalition still holds. Chua may be genuinely trying to articulate deeply felt sentiments of the Chinese community.
Indeed, it would be difficult for him and MCA as a whole to avoid doing this if they want to remain relevant to the community that the party represents. The failure of BN and MCA to win back Chinese votes in the two by-elections in Selangor and Sarawak in April and May this year despite strenuous efforts to woo the Chinese underlined the need for Chua to come out more strongly in defence of Chinese interests.
On the other hand however, the reality confronting him and MCA is that, firstly, UMNO continues to anchor the BN, and secondly, there are quarters within MCA who do not share his assertive and maverick approach to coalition politics. A graduate of the University of Malaya, she obtained her M.